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It’s All About the Cute Meeting and the Kiss at the End

By Caitlin Andreasen; For the Clock
On February 18, 2018

Another Valentine’s Day (or Singles Awareness Day, whichever you choose to observe) has passed. The pink and red hearts, flowers and chocolates in Walmart’s seasonal section were replaced by Easter pastels by noon on the 15th. The calendar moves onward, but our love for romance remains.

As a society, we are obsessed with love. Most of the movies that we watch have at least a hint of romance in the subplot. There is a huge market for love stories. In fact, there is a huge market for the same love story.

There are plenty of variations, of course, but most romantic movies follow this pattern:

The Cute Meeting: The main character meets their love interest under unlikely circumstances. This often takes place in a familiar setting like a bar or restaurant, or a party. This primary interaction sets the tone for the movie, perhaps by embarrassing one of the characters, or creating a memorable dialogue.

The Relationship: The characters establish a relationship of some kind. Maybe they are rivals, or co-workers or friends.

The Conflict and Separation: Something is preventing this couple from getting together and living “happily ever after,” and it separates them physically and/or emotionally. It could be an argument, another person, an illness, a war, etc.

Reconciliation/Solution: This is the turning point in the film. The couple overcomes the issue. There is usually a dramatic declaration of love.

The Kiss: This is, arguably, the moment of the movie that everyone waits for. This will happen with the reconciliation/ solution, but can also occur at the very end. It’s hard to say why we are so fixated on this scene. Whatever the reason, our obsession probably began early on, with Thomas Edison’s 18 second-long “The Kiss” (1896).

Best friends get married, enemies become lovers and the guy finally gets the girl. Sometimes, these films involve time travel, like “About Time,” “The Time Traveler’s Wife” or “When We First Met.” The endings are not always happy, either.  Many are tragic tearjerkers, like the famous “Titanic.” But the pattern of romantic relationships is pretty consistent.

So why are we so intrigued by the same recycled plot?

One reason might be that we take comfort in the familiar and the predictable, when it’s easy to understand or relate to the characters and conflict. PSU student Willow Moulton said that though she does not always watch romance, she enjoys romantic comedies like “How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days” or “50 First Dates” because “it’s relatable when the romance doesn’t go the way we all want it to.”

For some viewers, it could be about the distraction and the escape. We want to be entertained and taken away from our lives for an hour or two. We want to watch a feel-good film that makes us smile and laugh (or cry, as the case may be).

But, mostly, I think we want to believe in something greater than ourselves, and that our capacity to love will always overcome conflict. With all the violence and political discontent occurring in our world, I think an abundance of love stories is exactly what we need.

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